I have been trying to figure out the best time of day to exercise to decrease my cortisol-I think I might have a cortisol issue. For the past 1.5 years I've done crossfit 3 days a week at 6am, so I get up by alarm at 5:15 have coffee then work out, I also try to do 2-3 cardio sessions a week to burn calories. After my work out I have more coffee, then work on my feet most of the day. I eat paleo/primal most of the time. After I lost 35 lbs, my weight has stuck for a year, fat around the middle, not improving on my strengths and really need my coffee all the time.
Anyway...I read from Dr. Jack Kruse that I should skip cardio and lift at 5pm. But then I hear to work out in the am when cortisol is the highest. What are the thoughts? Should I change my exercise time?
asked byJennifer_Posey (25)
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on August 24, 2012
at 02:39 PM
Exercise that stresses the body raises corisol. However, rest and repairing muscles reduces cortisol. You need to push your system hard (whether it is running or lifting) and focus on sleep to reduce your cortisol levels.
on August 25, 2012
at 08:27 PM
How do you reset your circadian cycle of cortisol/DHEA/melatonin if it's not normal? (sorry couldn't figure out how to post this as a response to Quilt)
Also, if your circadian cortisol/DHEA/melatonin cycle isn't normal, when should one train?
on August 27, 2012
at 10:00 PM
If I read your post correctly, you're working out 5-6 times a week and such workouts are crossfit (which tends to be high intensity and stressful) coupled to cardio (you didn't describe what that entails, but 'cardio' tends to be high stress-low payoff based on what most people conventionally define as 'cardio').
Based on the limited info above, anecdotally of course, I'm not surprised that you've plateaued. Happened to me.
Instead of trying to figure out what time of day you should workout to reduce cortisol, I think that you need to reevaluate your program as a whole - determine the right weekly exercise AND recovery (including sleep) combination / plan. If you've noticed, so many people in the paleo-fitness arena (Sisson to McGuff to Wolf) focus heavily on / emphasize recovery.
As an experiment, take a full week off (while you reevaluate) from working out (and get plenty of sleep) and see how your body reacts.
Don't miss the forest for the trees.
on August 28, 2012
at 01:49 AM
In terms of weight loss, "cardio" is a poor substitute for an active lifestyle. My suggestion: quit stressing and move more.
Oh, and maybe drop the post-workout coffee to aid in muscle recovery.
on August 27, 2012
at 06:52 PM
Lately I have found working out in the afternoon to be a bit better. I used to always work out in the morning.
The reason for this is post workout is when I get most of carbs in for the day. I do better with carbs at night. During the day I keep carbs down, which helps to regulate my blood sugar, than at night, after my workout, my body is primed to accept the carbs. This works for me, and something you might want to give a try.
In terms of cortisol, you want cortisol during a workout, it help you lift heavy things :) THe problem is not cortisol, but chronic cortisol.
So to sum up, try working out at night. Work on getting your blood sugar levels regulated (if that is a problem for you), manage your stress, so you are not constantly in "flight or fight" mode. Workout hard, but don't overtrain, and you cortisol will be your friend. Eat carbs and protein post workout to help refuel and repair (anabolic responses). This strategy helps to use cortisol and insulin for the positive effects.
Just my two cents :)